Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Hot on the heels of creating the perfect winter riding machine (see below) and declaring it The Ultimate Winter-Killer, I immediately hung it on a hook and went up north without it. Old habits die hard, I guess.

I CANNOT understand why more people don't do this in the winter? I'm completely baffled.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Ultimate Winter-killing Machine

Behold, the single-speed mountain bike with Finland-made studded tires on the front AND back. It's +20-year-old frame replete with 1980's paint scheme snatched from the hook in the basement and put back into action.
I can now ride in any conditions.
I can now ride throughout the winter.
I can now put myself at incalculable risk by venturing out onto roads made of solid ice where cars have absolutely no turning or stopping power.
I can now, finally, experience true cycling burn-out by spending entirely too much time on the bike.
And just so you don't think I've been diddling away my hours between Xmas and New Years putting off the real job at hand: writing book #2, here are two more single-speed creations making use of older framesets that were also banished to the basement hooks years ago.
That's a Zinn Morgul-Bismarck purchased at the Turin Bike SHop in Evanston on 3 June 1989 for $600. (I was in town for the Sundance Grand Prix event at the Northbrook Velodrome. Pursuit specialist, Mindy Mayfield, helped me decide on that one. The salesman dissed her because she was a girl, not knowing that she had recently won a bronze medal at the World Championships. We never said anything to him.)
The last one is the first one I ever bought: The Motobecane Grand Touring purchased on 5 May 1981 at Marquette Mountain Ski Area. Cost me $480. That's the one that I reference in Roadie in which my Air Force
cohorts thought I had lost my freaking mind. I put more miles on that bike attempting to distance myself from the same USAF cohorts. (For this rebuild, I specifically chose the ugliest handlebar tape in the world because a friend of mine recently went through an ordeal unable to match the white bar tape with the white accent in the bike's logo. In honor of her ordeal... )
What's notable in this whole post is not that I've finally followed the single-speed trend (x3), or that I have been avoiding the task of writing a book, or that all of my bikes are finally functional (though decidedly not fast), but that with astounding clarity, Roadies can recall exactly where and when and for how much they bought each bike.
In the comments box below, I invite you to list your bikes, the dates and places of purchase, and cost.

Note: There is an unwritten rule in the cycling world in which all demonstrative photos of a bike must be shot in front of a white garage door (closed) with the drive-train facing the camera. In case you were wondering why all three bikes were shot "a la mugshot".

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pain in Small Doses

While out on a ride on Saturday, the thought struck me: this hurts.
And in case you wonder what cyclists think about while out on a 4 hour ride, here's a glimpse:
After that initial thought of "this hurts", all of those monster training rides that I've been on throughout my career came flooding back to me: they hurt, too. Some of them have been all-out death marches. Some of them have left me so hurt that I had to sit down while in the shower. (Now THAT'S what I call a great ride!)
Seriously, we push ourselves so hard in the name of fitness. It borders on wrong. What do non-athletic people do? What would it be like to be able to walk into work on Monday with no soreness anywhere in my body? What would it be like to not wake up in the morning and take ten minutes to walk to the bathroom. (I exaggerate, of course, but getting old still sucks.) What would it be like to go to a restaurant and order ANYTHING off the menu and not worry about how many miles I'll have to ride to work those calories off? Those people never feel the pains that I felt yesterday. My neck was on fire. My legs were screaming. My hands were numb. It was also 27 degrees, so I had to battle yet another source of discomfort.
The health experts say that if I sit in front of the TV and eat garbage, I'll eventually become a candidate for a heart attack. What does a heart attack feel like? Is it equal to the sum of all of the pain I've brought upon myself on these monster rides? Did I perhaps avoid one large payment in exchange for several - and I mean SEVERAL - smaller payments along the way?
Or could I have been watching TV and eating garbage the whole time thus avoiding this perpetual feeling of being hit by a falling tree?
I look outside at a cold landscape now and think, 'Do I get dressed and do it all over again today?'

Saturday, December 19, 2009


It's winter. It's 20 degrees out there this morning. We awoke to find a thin layer of snow on the ground. The Wx forecasters were predicting... here's the direct quote...."we can look for a dusting or maybe up to an inch of snow by morning".
Aren't we splitting hairs? Do we need to be so precise? Can't we just lump the two together? Can't they just say, "we can look for JUST enough snow to mess up the roads and make it dangerous to ride a bike." because that's all that matters to us.
Don't get me started on Wx people. They go a little overboard with their delivery in other areas. You know the scene:
A man standing in front of a computer-generated map of, in our case, SE lower Michigan telling us what the current temps are: It's 28 in Lansing, 27 in Brighton, 28 in Ann Arbor, 26 in Flint, 27 in Clarkston, 28 in Pontiac, 29 at Metro Airport.
Really? Is that necessary? Can't you just say, "Eh, it's about 27 everywhere."?

Can anyone drive to those towns and feel the one-degree difference in air temperature? No. You're just filling air time until the sports guy is ready.
Alert me when it's 70 in Lansing and 20 in Flint. That's probably something worth noting.
And don't bother with the wind chill. That only applies to exposed flesh. It doesn't affect inanimate objects, and it becomes irrelevant when we put on a coat. Starting at around Thanksgiving, very few of us are leaving the house with exposed flesh.
Also, don't waste 10 minutes telling us what the weather WAS earlier today while we were in the office. We can't do anything about it now. It's what we refer to as 'h-i-s-t-o-r-y'. Onward and upward.
And my message to the general populace: if you live in the south, don't expect sympathy when you get nailed with a huge snow storm. We're not sympathetic; we're bitterly jealous. We know you'll totally misuse it. When we get a foot of snow, we groom it and ski on it. When you get a foot of snow, you squander it.
Getting back to the WX forecasters: you can stop trying to predict the amount of snow in the approaching storm. Your accuracy record is pretty bad. Detroit Lions Bad. Let's just leave it at, "Well, let's just wait and see what we get, shall we?" Because if you do it that way, you can stand in front of a map tomorrow and say, "They got 3" in Lansing, 2" in Brighton, 2" in Ann Arbor, 3" in Flint, 3" in Clarkston, 2" in Pontiac, 2" at Metro Airport, and a dusting to an inch in Rochester damn Hills!

Note: Hours after I wrote all that, it was pointed out to me by Sammut that the weatherman mentions all those towns simply because the towns like the publicity much like racers like hearing an announcer say their names over the P.A. That's a brilliant explanation. And I'd like to just add that Bradley, Jason, Kelly, Ray, Mark, Jeff, Ricardo, Scott, Frank, Joy, Jef, Dave, Renee, and Liz-Jen have nothing to do with this post.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Getting on board the CX train

I'm trying to get "into" cyclocross. Seriously, I stand on the periphery contemplating the idea of thinking about the notion of actually doing it. It's hard because... it's hard. I mean, it's a hard sport. There's no place to hide. You can't cover up your spotty training methods by tailgunning on the back of the field. How do you think I survive most road races? By sitting in the back and sprinting at the end. Hello??
'Cross racing is an all out effort and an entirely new set of skills. And it's a whole new stable of toys that goes against my anti-hoarding tendencies (see below). It also comes at the time of year when I'm pretty much sick of the bike. I usually pull back on the stick in October and November. By December, I've made the train-sition to skiing and the gym. But there's something about the CX scene that intriues me. It intrigued me enough last weekend to take my camera out to shoot a race at Springfield Oaks.
(Parenthetically, I've been going to Springfield Oaks since it was built in the early-70s. There are more memories at that park than I can remember. Wait... is that possible? Like the time Jim Patnode got his Black Angus stuck in mud on the way to the 4-H auction. Or the time Tom Sennett streaked at the fireworks show and nobody noticed.) Here's the latest memory: watching grown men slip in the mud and fall on their arse.

The guy with the trombone was playing all the pep band hits of the 90s including Frankenstein, Eat 'em Up, and Charge.
The racing looks like something people do to ... I don't know... stay in shape or something. So we'll see how it goes next September when everyone is pushing me to race a 'cross race. (Don't worry. I'm well aware that they're only pushing me into it so that THEY won't be the last rider to finish the race.)